Australian Museum Journal Petrographic temper provinces of prehistoric pottery in Oceania

Shortform:
Dickinson, 1998, Rec. Aust. Mus. 50(3): 263–276
Author(s):
Dickinson, William R.
Year published:
1998
Title:
Petrographic temper provinces of prehistoric pottery in Oceania
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume:
50
Issue:
3
Start page:
263
End page:
276
DOI:
10.3853/j.0067-1975.50.1998.1285
Language:
English
Date published:
25 November 1998
Cover date:
25 November 1998
ISSN:
0067-1975
CODEN:
RAUMAJ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Digitized:
11 March 2009
Available online:
16 July 2009
Reference number:
1285
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (105kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (2089kb PDF)

Abstract

The mineralogical compositions and petrological character of non-calcareous mineral sand tempers in prehistoric potsherds from Pacific islands are governed by the geographic distribution of geotectonic provinces controlled by patterns of plate tectonics. As sands from different islands are not mingled by sedimentary dispersal systems, each temper sand is a faithful derivative record of parent bedrock exposed on the island of origin. Tempers are dominantly beach and stream sands, but also include dune sand, colluvial debris, reworked volcanic ash, broken rock, and broken pottery (grog). From textural relations with clay pastes, most tempers were manually added to clays collected separately, but naturally tempered clay bodies occur locally. Calcareous temper sands derived from reef detritus are widely distributed, but ancient potters commonly preferred non-calcareous sands for temper. Consequently, beach placer sand tempers rich in diagnostic heavy minerals are typical of many temper suites. Distinctive temper classes include oceanic basalt, andesitic arc, dissected orogen, and tectonic highland tempers characteristic of different geologic settings where contrasting bedrock terranes are exposed. Most Oceanian sherd suites contain exclusively indigenous tempers derived from local island bedrock, but widely distributed occurrences of geologically exotic tempers document limited pottery transfer over varying distances at multiple sites.

Last Updated: